17 Mar 2020

Project Management Upskilling: It’s About the Journey Not the Destination

Career
Project Management Upskilling: It’s About the Journey Not the Destination

Let’s face it, the role and shape of project and program management roles are in flux. Technology is disrupting business and constantly re-configuring the way we need to create, manage and execute projects. Whether your career goals are to move up the corporate ladder or just maintain your current position – it’s never been more important to make sure your skills remain up-to-date and relevant for the road you choose to take. Gone are the days where we can claim to have “arrived”. The bus is always moving forward. Here are a few things to keep in mind – no matter which route you choose to travel.


IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR TOO EARLY TO UPSKILL

It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out in your first project management role or you have 25 years in the trenches – there is always something to be upskilled. For younger project management professionals, it might feel as if you’ve just spent a whole bunch of time learning the latest techniques – but as the Harvard Business Review puts it, 

“degree programs simply cannot keep pace with how fast things are changing in the workforce. Many students are currently being prepared for jobs that no longer exist, and many don’t have the right skills for the job they want.”

This will be more or less true depending on the industry you are in and the particular skills you earned via your education - but it makes sense to regularly assess where you are and to continue to continue to actively learn.

Older more experienced workers can often feel like it’s all too late and the digital train has left without them. But the good news is that there is an increasing call for the soft skills - leadership, empathy and communication - that technology can’t replicate. These are often skills more experienced worked have developed just by having worked longer. So it can be a good idea to spend some time focusing on these and fine-tuning them to make sure they can be deployed in a more digital landscape.



KNOW YOUR GOALS

No matter what you career stage – it’s important to identify your goals when it comes to upskilling. Time is valuable so don’t waste time on areas that don’t interest you or don’t align with your current career stage and goal.
 
The place to start then, is to define as best you can your overall career goals. Are you looking to advance through the corporate structure and take on more management responsibility? Do you want to build project management expertise as an individual contributor? Are you seeking to specialise in a particular industry? 
 
The timeframe in which you hope to achieve your goals is also important and will help clarify what kind of training or upskilling you might need.


CERTIFICATION AND EDUCATION

Once you have your goals – it should become clear if you are seeking to certify your existing skillset, learn something new or both.
 
AIPM’s National Certification Program - RegPM is a great way to not only be recognised for your capabilities in project management but also set yourself apart from non-registered PM’s. If you have some experience under your belt the AIPM certification journey is a structured way to assess your current levels, be certified for those and set the course to upskill to the next level of certification.
 
Also take a look at our Study Directory which is the most comprehensive database of project management courses in Australia. Search by the industry or field of study you are interested in and then by the level of education you are looking for (certificate, degree, masters etc). You will also find articles and information on courses and institutions - whether you are just starting out or a long way down your career path. For those who are just beginning, our Career Directory offers a comprehensive listing of current graduate programs and internships to kick start your career.
 
Says AIPM CEO Elizabeth Foley,

“Our focus is on helping our members become gold standard project management professionals that are in demand by employers. By creating the single most comprehensive certification, education and career hub for project and program managers our aim is to make the journey to excellence more accessible.”

 

UPSKILLING YOUR TEAM

As senior project managers and mentors it may fall to you to assist your team and others in their project management journey. It’s not only good for them but through upskilling, you’re building a relationship, fostering trust and developing a more loyal employee.
 
Take the time to check in with your team or mentees and understand their personal goals when it comes to training and upskilling. Thinking about how this aligns with your organisation’s current and future requirements will help you build out a team training program that meets both company and team objectives.
 
As you formulate the program for your team consider the following: recruit those who are eager to learn; have a regular training schedule; incentivize participation and progress, deputize team members to help run the program, track progress; and celebrate your teams hard work. Taking a methodical approach will improve your chances of success and drive engagement.
 
If your employer is an organisational member or partner of AIPM, you may have access to our self-assessment tool. Our self-assessment tool can contribute to improving the performance of project management within your organisation and provides talent management of your existing team members and insights into the candidate recruitment process.
 

ENJOY THE RIDE

No matter if it’s your own professional development or that of your team – like most things in life – it’s about the journey not the destination. There will always be opportunities to improve and new skills to develop. The key is to have clear goals about the kind of career you want and then decide what you want to learn and be recognised for.